It was only a matter of time before we got around to featuring Merida in our 2018 bike guide. The brand, often mistaken for a Spanish marque given its Hispanic name, in fact calls Taiwan home (with links to Germany), just like Giant. In fact, Merida, like Giant, is also one of the few bike brands that owns its own manufacturing processes.
So what’s on offer? Well, the top-line race bike you’ll spot under riders of the Bahrain-Merida team most of the time is the Reacto, the aero race machine that received an update ahead of the 2017 Tour de France.
It boasted a claimed five per cent improvement in aero efficiency, while compliance was also said to be improved by ten per cent. What’s interesting, however, is that along with being available in both rim and disc brake guises, you can also have it in the pro-level CF4 layout, or the slightly pared-back and relaxed CF2 geometry, potentially making it an aero bike for the masses. There’s also an alloy version of the Reacto in the mix, too.
On the other side of the race coin is the Scultura, which is every bit a race bike as the Reacto, but caters to the needs of the lightweight climbers. Therefore, it’s generally Vincenzo Nibali’s bike of choice – it’s won a Giro d’Italia stage and Il Lombardia underneath the Shark of Messina this year – and also boasts good levels of compliance too, as we discovered when we rode the disc-equipped version over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. This predominately carbon-framed range is bolstered with eight aluminium models.
In terms of alloy bikes, there’s also the Race line-up, with two builds that offer a more affordable entry point to the Merida brand, while the emerging gravel market is catered for with the Silex – two carbon and five aluminium models here – and there are no bonus points for guessing what the Cyclo Cross bikes are designed for. Finally, the time trial artists among you might consider the Warp TT steed.
Here we go then, starting with that freshly updated Reacto.
We love a strong British brand here at RoadCyclingUK and Genesis is one of the best. Its philosophy of “bringing to life the sort of bikes we enjoy riding” resonates with us, while the brand is able to turn its expert hand equally to road, cyclo-cross and adventure bikes.
Last year, we got our hands on the disc-equipped Zero bike, and it represented Genesis’ first foray into a race-ready disc brake machine. We rated so highly, that it made the cut for the RCUK100, while the brand has also remained steadfastly strong at developing all kinds of bikes from different materials, including carbon, aluminium, steel and titanium.
For 2018, the range has been bolstered by the new Fugio, which is designed from the outset for 650b wheels for true all road ability, and sits alongside staple all-road machines, the Datum, Croix de Fer and CDA. Additionally, the likes of the steel Volare – now available for disc brakes – and Equilibrium demonstrate race and endurance readiness, constructed from high-spec Reynolds tubing.
There’s even a cyclo-cross race machine in the form of the Vapour, with carbon models ranging from a touch under three grand all the way down to the magic £999.99 mark for the aluminium version.
That means Genesis, despite not being one of the big international players in the market, has something to offer almost every rider. Want to know a little more about the key bikes in Genesis’ 2018 range? Read on.
For the next installment of RCUK’s 2018 bike guides, it’s over to Cannondale. Creators of the some of the most desirable bikes in the industry, including the latest version of the popular Synapse endurance bike, the American manufacturer also enjoyed something of a bumper year of coverage – for better and worse – on the racing scene through 2017.
On the one hand, Rigoberto Uran rediscovered his GC form at the Tour de France with second overall and a stage win, while the Cannondale-Drapac team also scored top tens at the Giro and Vuelta through Davide Formolo and Michael Woods respectively. On the other, the team faced an uncertain future in the summer and came close to folding until EF Education First stepped in as a sponsor for 2018. The bikes and riders have steadfastly performed on the road throughout though, evidenced by those GC performances, as well as three individual stage victories on the WorldTour to break a win-less streak stretching back to the 2015 Giro d’Italia.
The range begins with the SuperSix Evo and SuperSix Evo Disc lightweight race bikes, which cut a traditional profile thanks to the long straight toptube and thin tubing used extensively throughout. Interestingly, there is no out-and-out aero bike in the Cannondale range, although the SuperSix did receive a design tweak a couple of years ago to smooth the edges and add at least a little wind-cheating ability
Next is Cannondale’s highly-regarded endurance road bike, the Synapse, which was overhauled in 2017. The latest version of the Synapse is disc-only, as is the way these days with long-distance machines, but the range is fortified with two carbon rim brake bikes based around the previous frame, as well as four disc-equipped alloy machines.
If alloy is your frame material of choice in a race bike, then the American brand has this area well and truly covered with the CAAD12 in six guises, split down the middle with three rim brake and three disc brake models. Additionally, there’s also the race-ready carbon SuperX cyclo-cross bike and an alloy CX bike in the form of the CAADX. However, it’s worth noting at this point that the Cannondale Slate gravel bike won’t be available through UK retailers in 2018.
Let’s get stuck in, then, starting with the flagship race bike, the SuperSix Evo, which can be built to suit a very wide range of budgets.
Do you want to own a bike with its DNA ingrained in one of cycling’s heartlands? That’ll be Ridley, then. With its operations base in Flanders’ so-called ‘Bike Valley’, as well as being founded and led by Flandrian Joachim Aerts, it’s difficult to find a more quintessentially Belgian bike brand anywhere else.
You’ll also have spotted Ridley bikes under Andre Greipel at Lotto-Soudal for a number of years now, so the brand has been front and centre in the WorldTour, while it can claim a total of 15 world cyclo-cross champions since 2002. That’s not a bad hit rate in anyone’s book.
On the road, the Noah family of bikes is the aero offering, and is the bike of choice of Greipel and his lead-out train. Perhaps most impressive of the range is the new Aero Plus disc brake bikes, with a completely cable-free integrated bar-stem setup contributing to the creation of the most aerodynamically efficient bike Ridley has ever produced.
The Helium is the brand’s climbing bike. It can claim a frame weight of 700g in its top-line ‘SLX’ guise, while engineers have ensured it’s stiff enough to handle pro-level power with a claimed 15 per cent improvement over its predecessor, the SL.
The Fenix is Ridley’s endurance bike, focussed on pounding the cobbles – it is designed in Classics heartland, after all. The Fenix SLX Disc is new for 2018 and hits an impressive claimed frame weight of 850g while retaining features that should result in good levels of compliance, according to Ridley.
Of course, Ridley is also famous for its cyclo-cross bikes, with the top-end X-Night race bike supported by the slightly more relaxed alloy X-Ride, as well as the cyclo-cross-ready all-roader, the X-Bow. If you want a gravel-specific bike, then you need look no further than the X-Trail – available in both carbon and alloy framesets.
That’s the basic run-through of the range, so what are you waiting for? Let’s delve deeper into each category to see exactly what’s on offer…